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Thread: bathroom sink clogged after snaking with black sludge

  1. #1

    Exclamation bathroom sink clogged after snaking with black sludge


    Need some help quick! My bathroom sink was draining rather slowly along with a toilet that when flushed, makes a gurgling sound in the shower stall. The toilet does not overflow. (when the shower drain is closed, I do not hear the gurgle)

    I decided to snake out the bathroom sink. I first disconnected my trap. I used a hand turned 25 foot snake that is 1/4" and snaked out the drain via the pipe leading into the wall for the bathroom sink. When I retrieved the snake, there was some hair on it and a whole lot of black sludge . I reconnected my trap and figured all I had to do was flush the line with hot water. As soon as the water went down the drain, jet-black-smelly-sludge came up the drain and now the sink will not drain at all. I am afraid to flush my toilet not knowing what will happen. If you can help, I need some real quick! (from looking from the basement below the bathroom,it does appear that the sink drains into the same line as the toilet which is directly connected to the main stack) THanks so much
    Last edited by Terry; 09-16-2007 at 10:27 AM.

  2. #2


    I'm not an expert but I'd say that you move things around and caused it to get worse. I do it again and again until it drains good.

    I cleaned up all the drains in my house when I demo'd it and I'll tell you that I pulled a lot of nasty stuff out of there before I was done. I had the hurl effect several times.


  3. #3


    Oh..and I did try plunging as well. I have not used any chemical cleaners. Every other fixture in the house drains fine....so far.

  4. #4


    do you think I should get a larger, maybe 3/8" snake and a longer one as well? Or do you think that one is sufficient. There is a home depot down the street.

  5. #5


    Actually the snake I am using is more like 15 feet long. Any more suggestions? I am a total noob to plumbing. Thanks.

  6. #6


    still plunging...no dice.....
    Last edited by Terry; 09-16-2007 at 10:30 AM.

  7. #7


    Ok...the toilet flushes ok..just really loud for some reason....but the sink still hasnt drained..and yes, the water in the sink is black and smelly...I tried putting a wet rag over the overflow opening and plunging like crazy....nada...still not working...maybe it's my plunging technique, I don't know.....but like I mentioned earlier, the drain was slow but the water was clear....after I snaked the drain, then the water is black and it wont drain....

    1) is it possible I brought the clog closer to the sink or moved it further to a point where I can no longer reach it with the snake?

    2) is there a better technique to snaking than turning the snake drum clockwise real fast when I hit an obstruction?

    3) is there a better plunging technique?

    4) does it sound like I need to snake out the main stack? (if that is the case, I would think my toilet would over flow as well as the shower since they are connected directly over the stack in the basement)

    Any help will be appreciated....and yes, the black sludge is getting on things...the wife is not happy..gotta get her a new toothbrush

  8. #8


    still snaking and still plunging.....nothing working yet.....any suggestions?

  9. #9
    DIY Senior Member Marlin336's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Suffolk, NY


    The sink is draining slowly or not at all?

    I'd take the trap off (have a bucket or tray underneath as you will get all the sludge in the sink and in the trap coming out). Clean out the trap, and see where you stand. The slip nuts and washers should be re-usable so you don't really stand to loose anything. I also usually pull the trap and snake from there, not from inside the sink.

    As for needing a longer snake, do you have access to the pipes below the bathroom? Take a look at them. In all likelihood the sink waste dumps into the 3 or 4in for the toilet. If that's the case and the toilet flushes normally you know the clog must be in the 1.5 or 2in before it empties into the larger pipe. So long as your snake is making it into the unclogged pipe you don't need a longer one.

    I wouldn't try any chemical drain cleaner at this time either. They do have their place but I wouldn't use it in a clogged drain.

  10. #10


    FIRST off i would suggest a professional drain cleaner, or if you still want to do it yourself???

    go to h/d and rent a electic power snake, 3/8" cable nothing bigger,
    spread a lot of newspaper or get a good drop cloth at H/D.

    power snake drain out 35" or so wear good work gloves, and have old rags,
    to hold under cable when you pull back out of drain!!



  11. #11
    Plumber patrick88's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Webster Ma.


    FIRST off i would suggest a professional drain cleaner, or if you still want to do it yourself???
    you have gone this far so calling a pro will sometimes cost you more.
    go to h/d and rent a electic power snake, 3/8" cable nothing bigger,
    spread a lot of newspaper or get a good drop cloth at H/D.
    This is a good idea but remember that you really want the machine as close to the problem as possible, if you are to far from the drain opening you could end up kinking the cable and/or wrap it around your arm.
    power snake drain out 35" or so wear good work gloves, and have old rags,
    to hold under cable when you pull back out of drain!!
    if the lav sink is five feet from the toilet then cabling it this far is a bit much

    any type of house cleaner that says degreaser like 409 will clean the black stuff.
    I'm just starting to work with an old friend of mine to bring solar electric and hot water systems, wind turbines, Flex Fuel Boilers, batteries, hydroponic gardening, books, pellet grills and more. Also the parts for DIY installation.

  12. #12


    I would try using the same snake that you have but remove the trap first. I thought that is how you were doing it in the first place.


  13. #13
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Cave Creek, Arizona

    Default drain

    Your little snake made a tiny hole in a mass of sludge, that might have been the consistency of Jell-o. Before you did anything there was some space for water to flow through. Your snake stirred things up when it went through the mass, and when you pulled it out the tiny hole closed up and sealed the pipe. You can keep spending money renting snakes, or you can call a plumber who will have everything he needs to unplug it. Sometimes a mass of that style does not readily respond to simple snaking.

  14. #14
    DIY Senior Member Mike Swearingen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    On Albemarle Sound In Northeastern NC


    Snaking will plunge right through this type of gunk and plunging won't budge it.
    The best way to clean this heavy drain sludge is with a good non-caustic enzyme-based drain cleaner like DrainCare (do NOT use a caustic drain cleaner like Drano).
    DrainCare will not harm your sink, fixtures or pipes, but it WILL eat out and dissolve all of that organic black sludge, soap scum, grease, makeup, hair, etc., etc.
    First, you run warm water down the drain (or in the sink), then pour in a liberal amount of DrainCare and let it eat overnight. Then flush it down the next day with very hot water (I always start that flushing with a full kettle of boiling water).
    If it is really badly clogged (and this sounds like it is), you may have to do it more than once, but it will eventually clean all of this stuff out of your line back to the bare inside of the drain pipe.
    Works for me when all else fails. I've been using it for years, and I keep a couple of jugs of DrainCare on hand at all times. When my drains get sluggish, I hit them with it, and voila!...cleared out!
    You should be able to find DrainCare (or its equivalent) at most big box stores, etc.
    Good luck!
    Last edited by Mike Swearingen; 09-13-2007 at 02:52 AM.

  15. #15

    Thumbs up

    Thank you all for your help. I think this sums up my problem and solution:

    1)the sink drain was very clogged with organic waste. when I plunged the sink, it tried to bring that waste up, which it did, and looked like black gooey sand.

    2) the sink drained into a pipe directly connected to the vent. this vent then has a connection to the main stack. the toilet drains into the main stack after the sink and the shower drains to the main stack before the toilet

    3) since the sink was so badly clogged it was blocking the vent but not the stack. The toilet was therefore venting through the shower which caused the gurgling sound in the shower when I would flush the toilet

    After tiring of snaking and plunging the black gooey sand, which seemed to have no end, and still not getting the water in the sink to drain, the wife picked up some hair and grease drain cleaner from H/D. Worked like a charm! After flushing with very hot water it now drains very well and the toilet is not venting through the shower anymore.

    Since I am not a fan of harsh lye based cleaners, I think I will look for a more environmentally and wallet friendly solution to maintain my drains. Perhaps the baking soda and vinegar solution might suit me best. Anyone have success with this for maintaining clean and free-flowing drains?

    Thanks for all your help!


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